Pure Energy and Thinking Outside the Box
Empower APEGGA Volunteer Steve Wyton, P.Eng.
BY CARMEN KILLICK
Public Relations Coordinator
Wyton, P.Eng., is a project engineer with City of Calgary Solid Waste
Services. He graduated in 1994 with a B.Sc. in civil engineering from
the University of Calgary. Mr. Wyton gained business insight and strategy
working in the rotational program at the city, which gave him a well-rounded
experience in all aspects of municipal engineering as a project engineer
in Waterworks, Streets, Sewers and Solid Waste Services. Besides volunteering
for the Outreach program, Steve is an executive member of APEGGA's Calgary
Why did you become involved in Outreach?
Outreach is my favorite involvement with APEGGA because I absolutely
love the look on someone's face when they learn something new. It has
helped to hone my skills as a presenter and provides an opportunity to
break away from hard-core engineering. I have developed great friendships
as a result of my involvement. You can't beat the sense of well-being
that comes from helping another person learn something new and exciting.
What are your other hobbies and interests?
I have taken up golfing about two years ago and it is now my new passion!
I am lucky to work near to a number of courses and driving ranges, so
I have been able to get my score down to the high 80s to low 90s. I am
also a real outdoor enthusiast -- I love hiking, camping and mountain
biking. My favorite trip was the West Coast Trail, which I hiked in 1998.
As well, I volunteer as a personal trainer at the YMCA and a volunteer
with the Calgary Stampede. (Mr. Wyton also competed in an amateur bodybuilding
contest in 1996.)
Have you received an award or special recognition
that is important to you?
I received the City of Calgary Star of Excellence in 1998, which is awarded
annually to seven people or business groups. The award was for a project
that implemented the use of tire shred as an alternative to gravel drainage
layers in Calgary landfills. By diverting the use of gravel the benefits
are many fold. Since 1996, the project has saved the City of Calgary taxpayers
over $3 million, making it cost effective. As well it is an environmentally
sensitive alternative as it has diverted over four million used tires
from the landfills and has spared the use of a non-renewable resource.
I am very proud that I made a significant contribution to the fact that
Alberta is the only place in North America where there isn't a major waste
tire stockpile. (This initiative generated great deal of interest, which
culminated in Mr. Wyton's submission of a public interest paper in October
2000, An Alternate Civil Engineering End-Use for Recycled Tire Shred Leachate
Drainage Layer in Sanitary Landfills.)
Do you have any funny or weird Outreach stories?
One time I was giving a presentation on structures to a Grade 7 class.
We were discussing the design of the space shuttle and how it relates
to concept of zero gravity and the vacuum of space. Of course, kids come
up with some of the best questions like, "How do you fit space shuttle
in a vacuum?" But one question blew me away: "What is the temperature
of a vacuum?" I replied, "Excuse me?" The future engineer
further explained his question exactly as this: "Since temperature
is a measure of energy between particles and you said a vacuum is devoid
of all particles, what is the temperature of a vacuum"? Wow! That
is impressive reasoning skills for a university graduate, let alone a
Grade Seven student! My response: " Well
it is very, very cold!"
Is there a person who has been helpful in your
development as a professional?
The entire Solid Waste Services team is a great group of people that
I am proud to call peers and friends. I am fortunate that I have always
been given the freedom to express and explore ideas and the fact that
we work so well together. Sometimes the craziest ideas develop into things
A number of individuals also stand out in my mind: John Wood, P.Eng.
and Doug Jamieson, P.Eng. Both are professionals who I respect and trust
as friends. When I first graduated from university, they both made great
effort to help me find employment and get my life in order, to which I
am grateful. This has instilled a feeling of responsibility in me to turn
the deed to other new graduates.
Most importantly, my parents played a major role in my professional development.
They taught me how to work through a problem until a reasonable solution
is found, to live every moment to its fullest and the rare ability to
listen before you talk.
What would you consider as a dream project,
one that you would like to be involved in?
My dream project would be anything that involves cutting edge, new technology
-- allowing me to constantly expand my knowledge and develop new and exciting
ideas. As a project engineer with the city, these types of projects don't
grow on trees, but I have been dedicated to leading Solid Waste Services
into developing a landfill gas collection and utilization project. The
project could potentially use microturbine technology to produce electricity
from collected landfill gas.
I also love projects that challenge my abilities -- those that aren't
so "cookie-cutter." As an example, I am responsible for remediating
a few old landfills within Calgary, of which one will be turned into softball
diamonds. The challenge here is to make a site safe for public use and
to the environment without letting anyone onto the fact that it is an
old landfill! If I can make an engineered remediation look natural and
"unengineered," I am successful!
What do you think the next hot trend/subject/discipline
will be in engineering?
I believe that the alternative energy field will be the next hot discipline.
It partially stems from the energy crisis in California and the energy
deregulation here in Alberta. There seem to be numerous new ideas and
projects sprouting up everywhere: from the city's new GreenMax program
and wind turbine farms in Southern Alberta to the use of fuel cells in
vehicles and microturbines in condominium developments. I am fortunate
to be working on a joint initiative between Solid Waste Services, ENMAX
and PanCanadian Petroleum. The project involves drilling into closed portions
of Calgary's landfill sites to determine the quality and quantity of methane
If the testing works out, this gas could be used to generate electricity.
This is where I see the future of engineering heading, energy companies
redirecting their exploration for oil and gas, their "milk and honey",
which is running out, to explore other options, environmentally sensitive
options which maximize output and efficiency.
What is your motto?
Do onto others as you wish onto you.